Path analysis of the energy density of wood in eucalyptus clones.
Path analysis has been used for establishing selection criteria in genetic breeding programs for several crops. However, it has not been used in eucalyptus breeding programs yet. In the present study, we aimed to identify the wood technology traits that could be used as the criteria for direct and indirect selection of eucalyptus genotypes with high energy density of wood. Twenty-four eucalyptus clones were evaluated in a completely randomized design with five replications. The following traits were assessed: basic wood density, total extractives, lignin content, ash content, nitrogen content, carbon content, hydrogen content, sulfur content, oxygen content, higher calorific power, holocellulose, and energy density. After verifying the variability of all evaluated traits among the clones, a two-dimensional correlation network was used to determine the phenotypic patterns among them. The obtained coefficient of determination (0.94) presented a higher magnitude in relation to the effect of the residual variable, and it served as an excellent model for explaining the genetic effects related to the variations observed in the energy density of wood in all eucalyptus clones. However, for future studies, we recommend evaluating other traits, especially the morphological traits, because of the greater ease in their measurement. Selecting clones with high basic density is the most promising strategy for eucalyptus breeding programs that aim to increase the energy density of wood because of its high heritability and magnitude of the cause-and-effect relationship with this trait.